Fair warning: Reading this in the dark or by yourself will likely send a chill down your spine. These are nine of the scariest real-life haunted house stories from the creepiest places around country — and, if you're questioning, you can actually book a stay at these places and see for yourself.
On June 10, 1912, Josiah and Sarah Moore were bludgeoned to death inside of their home in Villisca, Iowa. Their four children — and two friends, who were spending the night — were also killed, and to this day, the crime remains a mystery. Their home is considered one of the most haunted houses in the country, and guests are drawn to it. People even pay $400+ to stay for one night.
"Tours have been cut short by children's voices, falling lamps, moving ladders and flying objects," says the Villisca Axe Murder House website. And, in 2014, a paranormal investigator stabbed himself after spending the night. "Skeptics have left believers," adds the website.
The Lemp Mansion in St. Louis, Missouri, is known to be one of the most haunted places in America, due a tragic history that continues to haunt people today.
The 33-room home was built in the 1860's by William Lemp, a successful brewery owner in the midwest, who ended up killing himself in 1904 after the youngest of his four sons, Frederick, died. A few years later, his wife also died of cancer in the house. Then, in 1922, William Lemp Jr., shot himself in the same room William Sr. killed himself.
As if that weren't enough tragedy for one place, in 1949, Charles Lemp — William's third son — shot his dog in the basement of the home and then killed himself in his room. That same year, the house was sold and transformed into a boarding house, where reports of hauntings began. According to Destination America, witnesses have experienced burning sensations and slamming doors.
Today, The Lemp Mansion is a restaurant and inn that also holds events. On Sunday night, the inn hosts a Murder Mystery Dinner.
The Hotel Monte Vista has numerous paranormal guests they can’t get rid of. The hotel, which opened in 1927 as the Community Hotel — named after the townspeople who helped raised the funds for it to be built — has a history of underground opium dens, speakeasies, and gambling. Today, the hotel is known for the paranormal activity that haunts some of the rooms and halls.
Guests who’ve stayed in room 220 have experienced the TV changing channels on its own accord, and some have said they felt cold hands touching them in their sleep. There’s also reportedly a phantom bellboy who knocks on doors and announces “room service,” but when guests get to the door, no one's there. One of the more popular — and possibly most disturbing encounters — is the sound of an infant crying in the basement. The hotel website reads, “Staff have found themselves running upstairs to escape the sound of the cries. Though the sounds are very real to those who hear them, there has been no information that has explained the phenomenon.”
Rumored to be on top of an Indian burial ground, and the home to at least 12 different ghosts, is the Myrtles Plantation in Louisiana. Built in 1796, the ghost stories tell the tale of a former slave named Chloe, who had her ear chopped off after she was reportedly caught eavesdropping. In seeking revenge, Chloe killed two of the master’s daughters by poisoning a birthday cake. She was then hanged by her fellow slaves, and today is reportedly seen wandering the plantation with a turban on to conceal her ear.
If you want to investigate things for yourself, you can stay at the plantation for $175/night.
In 1937, millionaire inventor, Norman G. Baker, posed as a doctor and turned the hotel into a hospital that he said could cure cancer. Have the chills yet? Norman, who had a fetish for the color purple, painted many sections of the hospital purple, and today, the chimneys remain that same color. In addition to wearing purple shirts and ties, he drove a purple car as well. People came from all over with hopes of curing their cancer, and many who were treated died.
Eventually, Baker was exposed and run out of town, and today the property is an active hotel. It's said to be haunted by several ghosts, including a bearded man wearing Victorian clothing and a five-year-old girl.
In 1907, Mizpah Hotel opened as one of the first luxury hotels in Nevada. With a rich history and elaborate decor, the hotel is best known for its legend of the “Lady in Red.” While the date remains unclear, the story goes like this: A woman was murdered in her room on the fifth floor — some say it was a jealous ex-boyfriend, others say the Lady in Red had been caught cheating by her husband and he killed her in a jealous rage — and today she haunts guests.
Those who’ve stayed at the hotel say the Lady in Red whispers in men’s ears and leaves pearls from her broken necklace on guests pillows. Guests can stay in the Lady in Red suite to experience it themselves, and if that’s too much for you, the Red Lady Bloody Mary at the hotel restaurant should suffice.
The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in West Virginia was designed to house 250 patients when it opened in 1864. Fast forward to the 1950's, when the facility reached its peak and had more than 2,400 patients living in overcrowded and inhumane conditions — some even kept in cages. In 1994, the asylum closed, and today, there are reports of paranormal activity, with souls of patients lingering and roaming the halls.
You can do an overnight ghost hunt tour from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. at the Asylum, a two-hour paranormal tour from 10:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., or a 90-minute day tour.
In 1890, the Queen Anne hotel in San Francisco was an etiquette school for girls. Today, it has 48 rooms for guests to stay in, though some believe the ghost of Miss Mary Lake, the school's headmistress, still lingers. Guests who stay in room 410, Miss Mary Lake’s former office, have woken up to find their blankets closely tucked around them in bed or their clothes unpacked.
In 1892, Lizzie Borden was the main suspect for the axe murders of her father and stepmother. Borden was tried and acquitted of the murders, and guests who visit Lizzie's house in Fall River, Massachusetts say she can be heard cackling about it. Others say that you can sometimes hear a maid screaming for help and that Lizzie's axed parents stalk the grounds. You can experience the paranormal activity yourself by visiting the Lizzie Borden House, which is now a museum and bed and breakfast.